Picks and Pans Review: Strange Brew

updated 09/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/19/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

As a change of pace in the sophisticated humor of SCTV, Rick Moranis' and Dave Thomas' "Great White North" routine was a perfect brief television bit. Sure enough, as a movie, it is still a perfect television bit. The Moranis-Thomas characters are the McKenzie brothers, country bumpkins who host a Canadian TV show devoted largely to burping, discussing the all-encompassing virtues of beer, doughnuts and back bacon, and insulting each other—their "Take off, eh" and "Hoser!" have already entered the vernacular. That can be awfully amusing for five minutes and awfully tedious for 90. The subplot of the film, directed and written (with Steven DeJarnett) by Moranis and Thomas, involves a megalomaniac brewmeister, Max Von Sydow (let's hope Ingmar doesn't see this, Max). He is putting drugs in beer served to inflates of a mental institution so he can control them and eventually take over the world. The execution of that sappy idea is as gaseous as its conception. Moranis and Thomas are spontaneous and likable, and co-star Lynne (The Amateur) Griffin is a beauty. The McKenzies, though, quickly wear out a welcome. The film mainly makes clear again the skill that went into those 1940 films by another media crossover, Bob Hope. In, say, The Ghost Breakers or My Favorite Blonde, he stayed in his basic radio character but was surrounded by amusing actors and snappy plots. It's not as easy as it looked, is it boys? (PG)

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